Which Way to the Cloud?

Jo Fuller, Head of Pre Sales and Product Innovation at Percipient, looks at the differences between the varied approaches to cloud computing – SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, asking which is the best fit for your business?

There’s no escaping it, the cloud is here to stay. With the global cloud computing market expected to reach $623.3 billion by 2023, a huge increase on last year’s figure of $272 billion, it’s clear that more and more organisations are moving cloud-ward and reaping all the benefits that such a shift can bring.

But for those businesses who are yet to make the move or for those who are already in the cloud but looking to reassess their approach, it can be hard to get to grips with the different options on offer.

With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, the three main approaches to cloud computing, with a view to helping you decide which might be the best fit for your business.

SaaS – Software as a Service

Software as a Service, or SaaS as it’s more usually known, is the most common option for businesses in the cloud. In the simplest of terms, this model uses the internet to deliver applications to businesses, applications which are fully managed by a third party software vendor.

Mostly run through a web browser, this approach negates the need for costly, time-consuming and high-maintenance downloads and installations for the customer.

As well as taking care of the software, the vendors manage all technical issues, including hardware, data security, installs and upgrades, freeing-up your IT department to focus on more value-add, strategic activities, rather than fire-fighting the inevitable daily IT issues that come from managing everything in-house.

Any upgrades are carried out in the cloud meaning less downtime for your business and increased productivity, with swift deployment and rapid scalability making it an agile, flexible option that will grow alongside your business.

PaaS – Platform as a Service

Cloud platform services, otherwise known as Platform as a Service, or more commonly, PaaS, delivers a cloud-based framework for developers to use as a foundation for the creation of customised applications or bespoke software.

Similar to SaaS, the internet is the primary form of service delivery but instead of delivering software, PaaS provides a platform for software creation.

Servers, storage and networking can all be managed in-house or by the third-party providers, depending on the available resources and the needs of the business in question. Ultimately, it allows developers to focus on software development and application customisation without having to manage issues relating to storage, systems, software updates or IT infrastructure.

By going down the PaaS route, businesses can design and create applications that can then take on certain cloud characteristics, such as ease of scalability and high availability.

Of obvious benefit when it comes to creating customised applications if speed of deployment is crucial, PaaS also helps to reduce costs and simplify the entire software development process.

IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Cloud Infrastructure Services as it’s also known, uses virtualisation technology to deliver a comprehensive cloud computing infrastructure typically via a dashboard, creating a type of virtual data centre in the cloud.

In simple terms, the IaaS approach takes the place of a traditional data centre, providing the same level of technical capabilities but without the associated costs of physically maintaining and managing it all.

It enables businesses to choose an almost pay-as-you-go route, purchasing resources on demand, as and when needed, to access and monitor devices, networking, storage and other related services.

Unlike with SaaS and PaaS, IaaS customers are responsible for managing applications, middleware and data, with the IaaS providers taking responsibility for managing servers, hard drives, networking, virtualisation and storage.

Scalable and flexible, the IaaS approach means that businesses retain complete control of their infrastructure, while avoiding the cost and resources involved in buying and managing their own servers and data centre components.

Move to the Cloud

With an option to suit every business, regardless of size, scope or sector, moving to the cloud has never been a more appealing prospect – particularly when you consider the cost and efficiency savings to be made across the board.

It’s no longer a case of if businesses move to the cloud, but when. Ensuring you take the right approach now to stand your business in good stead for the foreseeable future.

For more information on how Percipient can help shape your journey to the cloud or to discuss your specific requirements, get in touch or call the team on 01606 871332.

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